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Central America

It was the second deadliest conflict in the world last year, but it hardly registered in the international headlines.

As Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan dominated the news agenda, Mexico's drug wars claimed 23,000 lives during 2016 -- second only to Syria, where 50,000 people died as a result of the civil war.

"This is all the more surprising, considering that the conflict deaths [in Mexico] are nearly all attributable to small arms," said John Chipman, chief executive and director-general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which issued its annual survey of armed conflict on Tuesday.

"The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan claimed 17,000 and 16,000 lives respectively in 2016, although in lethality they were surpassed by conflicts in Mexico and Central America, which have received much less attention from the media and the international community," said Anastasia Voronkova, the editor of the survey.  cnn.com
Accused drug-smuggler Cassie­ Sainsbury’s lawyers are asking Australian taxpayers to help pay for her legal costs as she faces charges in Colombia.

Ms Sainsbury is in custody after she was arrested at El Dorado International Airport last month on a tip-off from the US Drug Enforcement Agency.

Colombian authorities allegedly found 5.8kg of cocaine in 18 wrapped packages in her luggage.

“They are looking for state funds in Australia for the legal costs, so she was signing a form for that to put before the government there,” Ms Sainsbury’s Bogota-based lawyer Orlando Herran said.

The federal government offers financial support to Australians in trouble overseas through prison loans and the Serious Overseas Criminal Matters Scheme, which can be made available to those facing more than 20 years in jail or the death penalty­ if convicted. theaustralian.com.au
Dramatic video shot by citizens on the ground show tanks marked ‘GNB’ (the Venezuelan National Guard), with their roofs on fire, plowing through a crowd of protesters in the Venezuelan capital Caracas.

Laura Rangel, a journalist who captured the moment on film, told Reuters three protesters were injured, one of them seriously.

At least one person was caught underneath a vehicle, NBC News confirmed.

Pedro Michelle Yammine Escobar, 22, is in serious condition at the intensive care unit of a hospital after suffering a rib fracture and internal bleeding following the tank collision, Rangel told Reuters. globalnews.ca
A Canadian man has been detained in connection with the killings of an Ontario mother and her American boyfriend in Belize, police in the Central American country say.

The bodies of Francesca Matus, 52, and her American boyfriend Drew De Voursney, 36, were found on Monday in a sugarcane field outside of the town of Corozal, where the couple lived.

Raphael Martinez, spokesperson for the Belize Police Department, said that the Canadian man has been detained in order to be questioned by police, but he has not been charged.

Martinez said it's possible others have been questioned by police but he could not say how many or if they remain in custody.

The Canadian government is aware a citizen is in police custody in Belize. cbc.ca
Angela is a gangly, giggly teenager in a Mickey Mouse t-shirt and sneakers. She also is the mother of a baby she bore at age 14 when she had sex with her teacher but did not know where babies came from.

“I know they would come from your belly, but I didn't know how you would make them,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at her home in the town of Santo Tomas Milpas Altas about 20 km (12 miles) south west of the capital Guatemala City.

Like Angela, many girls and women in Guatemala have unwanted pregnancies due to a lack of information about sex and their own bodies and endemic violence, according to women's healthcare campaigners.

Guatemala has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in Latin America, putting girls on a path to poverty and dependence rather than school or decent work.

Government statistics cited by Planned Parenthood Federation recorded more than 5,000 pregnancies by girls under 14 in 2014 - and in four out of five cases the offender was a close relative such as a father, uncle or grandparent. independent.co.uk
While there are a dozen plausible reasons for the shocking result of the 2016 presidential election, the discontent of white men lacking college degrees ranks high on most lists, no small part of that discontent is linked to their diminishing role in the workplace.

Over the past two generations, America has suffered a quiet catastrophe in the collapse of work for men.

In the half-century between 1965 and 2015, work rates (the ratio of employment to population) for the American male spiraled relentlessly downward — a seeming flight from work in which ever-greater numbers of working-age men exited the labor force altogether.

America is now home to an army of prime-working-age men, some seven million of them ages 25 to 54, who no longer even look for work.

Consider a single fact: in 2015, the work-rate of males aged 25 to 54 was slightly lower than it had been in 1940, when the official unemployment rate was 14.6 percent and the United States was just coming out of a decade of depression in which the search for work was usually futile. reddit.com
British and UK media reported over the weekend about a group of Australian and other tourists who left their hotel in Antigua, Guatemala for an excursion on a private bus, only to be shot at by a passing car and subsequently assaulted, tied up, and robbed at gunpoint.

An Australian couple who was part of the kidnapped group decided to try to recuperate their thwarted vacation plans by coming to Costa Rica.

“Queensland couple Jayson Peter Kelly and Kirsten Smith were just eight weeks in to a nine-month trip of a lifetime when they were abducted, robbed and assaulted at gunpoint in Guatemala,”

Smith and Kelly, both 25, described to media how Saturday just before 2 a.m. as their group set off north for León, Nicaragua from Antigua, Guatemala, they were intercepted by three heavily armed men in a car who shot at their bus and forced it to stop.

The three robbers then led the bus drivers and foreigners to a wooded place, gagged them, roughly took their belongings off of them including computers, cameras, money and jewelry, luckily sparing their passports.

Women in the group reported to media saying the robbers touched them indecently and hit them. After several hours of being held captive, the kidnappers fled, and the tourists were able to eventually free themselves and seek help. news.co.cr